Injury Law
24 Jan

What You Should Do After a Workplace Burn Injury

Burn injuries are among some of the most serious workplace injuries because they can occur from a number of different hazards and often result in more moderate to severe, sometimes even fatal injuries. While the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does have a set of standards for workplace safety to lessen fire and burn risks, burn injuries are still one of the leading causes of unintentional injury and death in the US. 

In fact, OSHA reports that more than 5,000 people are hospitalized each year after suffering a burn injury at work. Some burn injuries require surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and emotional counseling. Therefore, it’s crucial to know what to do if you suffer a burn injury at work.

What to Know About Burn Injuries

Skin is one of the largest organs in the human body. Its 3 layers of protection, the epidermis, dermis, and subcutis, are all essential to health and protecting our bodies. A burn injury not only damages our skin, but it also compromises the skin’s ability to perform its protective functions.

Burns can occur from a number of different hazards, but the major types are listed below:

Major Types of Burns


  1. Electrical: electricity enters the body, damaging the skin
  2. Chemical: acids, solvents, or alkalies come into contact with skin, causing damage 
  3. Thermal: steam, flames, extreme cold, or scalding liquids raise the skin temperature and cause burning
  4. Radiation: exposure to strong chemicals or sun rays, which cause skin damage 

Degrees of Burns

The severity of a burn is judged based on what layer of skin has been damaged during the accident and the corresponding injury. Doctors will deem a burn to be anything from a first degree to third degree. There are also such things as fourth-degree burns, but these injuries are often fatal.

First Degree: a superficial burn that affects only the first layer of skin with redness, dryness, and peeling. Second Degree: this burn reaches the second layer of skin, causing redness, blistering, and swelling.
Third Degree: destroying the skin and exposing muscles, tendons, and bone, this burn often feels numb due to nerve damage and appears white or charred.

Most Common Occupations for Burn Injuries

Burn injuries can occur in almost every work setting, but a few occupations have a much higher risk and are more often exposed to burn hazards. The following are occupations with a high risk for burn injuries

  1. Construction workers
  2. Electricians
  3. Firefighters
  4. Food workers
  5. Health care workers
  6. Janitors
  7. Landscapers
  8. Mechanics
  9. Outdoor workers

Note: Young Restaurant Workers and Workplace Burns

Another demographic that is likely to suffer injury is teen employees who work at restaurants. Many teens start their working career at fast food restaurants and are likely to get burned, especially since restaurant work can become extremely busy. While the federal government specifies that workers must be older than 16 to cook, these laws are sometimes ignored.

What You Should Do After a Workplace Burn Injury

As soon as you suffer a burn, report the injury to your employer and seek immediate medical attention. Not only is this important for your job and your health, seeking immediate attention can be crucial later when trying to seek worker’s compensation or damages. Your priority should always be your health.

Worker’s Compensation

In most cases, you will be able to apply for worker’s compensation through your workplace in response to your workplace burn. Worker’s compensation is a benefit that most workers have at their disposal for situations like these. However, the insurance company may try to prove that your injury is not eligible for worker’s compensation. 

Personal Injury Lawsuit

If your burn injury was the fault of your employer or a third party, you may be eligible for damages to cover your injury, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Third parties who may be at fault for burn injuries include the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment, a vendor, sub-contractor, or a vehicle driver.

Determining whether to pursue a personal injury lawsuit or to apply for worker’s compensation can be a tricky decision. If you’re not sure what you should be seeking for your burn injury, speak with a lawyer today!